Anthony Mascolo…leader of the packAnthony Mascolo has a hair career that many will only ever dream of. We spoke to one of the industry’s most creative minds to find out what it really takes to get to the top, and stay there.
After 30 years in the hair industry, what is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone who wants to run a successful business – whether as a salon owner or a freelancer?
Never stop training! That has been my mantra since I began hairdressing. Re-educating yourself keeps your work fresh, keeps you motivated and helps you build and maintain a strong clientele as well as a strong team.
Your team is key to your business; by giving them opportunities to keep on training you will have greater loyalty, and a higher and improved standard of work. And, by sharing your knowledge with others, you also progress in your own work.
How has the hair industry changed since you first started your career – both in the creative and business sense?
I think I came into hairdressing at a very exciting time. Vidal Sassoon was already established and the 1970s saw a lot of creativity. I was really pushing myself creating plaits and braids, gelled and woven shapes. There were a lot of other young hairdressers being experimental at the same time, people like Robert Lobetta and Andrew Collinge and we had friendly rivalry.
There was also growing opportunities to do hair shows all over the world – it was exciting. Now hair shows are huge, expensive productions, but there is still the desire to be creative and do unique work, so in some ways, little has changed.
In business terms I think clients are a more discerning. Magazines, newspapers, TV and the web share ideas very quickly and clients are not only more knowledgeable but have greater expectations, so salons have to work hard to please their clients.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration from everything – my travels, my family, London – and what I see going on ‘on the street’, films, music, fashion, magazines and from developing discussions with the team I work with.
Do you believe the worlds of fashion and entertainment have a large influence on what the public wants when it comes to their hairstyles?
Totally! You can’t deny that the world of “celebrity” has a huge influence on how people want to look. Everything happens so quickly and is visible immediately online so it’s very easy for the public to get information. I think they forget that often these celebrities don’t look quite the same in ‘real life’ though.
Some might ask, given that you have come so far with your brand in 30 years – collections, product lines, your creative reputation, innovations – why keep going?
Creativity drives me. I like having new ideas, I like inspiring other hairdressers and I enjoy working with my team. I take more holidays and spend more time with my wife these days, but it’s important to me that what I’ve built up over the years continues to thrive. Our 2013 Masterbrand Collection shoot was five days of total enjoyment. The whole TIGI International Creative Team worked together and created some great looks and I was totally motivated.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out, or choosing to work alone, on how to motivate themselves on the tougher days?
When I was a young hairdresser I worked hard, long hours. I immersed myself in my work, learning from those around me who had greater experience, (in my case, my brothers,) and never saying “No” to any opportunity. If you aren’t prepared to dedicate yourself to learn and improve, you won’t develop yourself as a hairdresser.
Stay totally focused on your goals and don’t stop thinking about what you want – it will come to you. To be a great hairdresser you need…to be prepared to work hard, to never stop learning, to like people, to push your creativity every day and improve your technical ability and to develop a strong team of people to work with you.
If someone has one successful salon, what should they consider prior to possible expansion?
If you have one busy salon it makes sense to open another. But, there are so many decisions to make before taking the plunge. When I owned salons we saw expansion as a way of promoting and rewarding loyal and senior staff. It enabled us to build a team and to offer a better career path. However there are financial considerations and you have to be sure a second salon will draw in sufficient clients.
Anthony’s tips for staying ahead when it comes to the current financial climate
I’ve worked through several recessions now and I think the key things to remember are:
- Stay focused.
- Offer the best service possible to your clients.
- Ensure that your salon looks clean, stylish and better than your competitors’ salons.
- Ensure that your team understands the importance of offering the best individual service and the best haircuts and colours.
- Keep promoting your salon. In the ‘90s recession I insisted on advertising in magazines throughout the difficult times and it really worked. Today you can use social media, emails, and your website to promote your business, giving that extra element of interest to your clients and non-clients. You can’t afford to take your finger off the button!
- It’s crucial all your salon team is aware of the importance of up-selling services and retailing. Advising clients on treatments, colour and retail products can add to your profits with minimal effort. Good businesses progress even in difficult times.
Should freelance hairdressers be marketing themselves online?
I think everyone has to think about ways to market themselves these days and the internet/online promotion is something we can’t ignore. It’s also the most cost-effective way of promoting yourself. But as with every aspect of your business it needs managing and monitoring.
Is a website necessary?
Yes! Most people use the web for information, so if your business isn't there, prospective clients will find your competitors! If you haven’t got the time or capability to manage your website, get someone to do it for you.
How can creative stylists get involved with shows?
A show takes time to plan, needs creative input, organisation and lots of developmental ideas. We plan our big shows at least a year in advance. We work with film directors, our show director, and our hairdressers to develop concepts and ideas. We spend time and shoot films and images to use as introductions and backdrops, we research and develop hair ideas and work with our stylist to create the look and feel of the clothes.
My wife Pat works with her make-up team to design the make-up looks and Christel [Lundqvist] and the colour team come up with all the colours for the hairpieces and the collections. We have a lot of experience in doing shows, but to start I would advise people to work as assistants or to organise small local events, so you begin to understand the process of working out the timing, the look and feel of the show and the contents. You need to be very aware of your audience.
If you are doing a show locally and your audience is made up of the general public then you need to show ideas relevant to them – on-trend hairstyles, updo’s they can recreate themselves, fashion led colour ideas, looks for occasions – such as the beach, evenings out, weddings etc. On the other hand, if the audience is made up of hairdressers, you can think of doing more avant-garde ideas to inspire creativity and push the hairdressers’ artistic development.
First published in the Capital Hair & Beauty magazine.